6 Running Tips To Remember
From training to race day, there are certain “rules” we athletes must follow to feel our best when we go for a run. However, learning more about each of them can be difficult and wearisome after scrolling through blog post after blog post. So, here they are – all compiled on one single page that lets you spend less time reading and more time training.
1. Warm Up
Every coach has an opinion on the best way to loosen things up and prevent injuries from occurring. The “dynamic warm-up” has gained a lot of recent momentum, and provides a great way to get nice and loose while increasing your heart rate before your workout. Dynamic warm-up exercises include:
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Walking toe touches
- Knee to chest
- High kicks
These stretches are best done after a small amount of light walking or jogging to make sure that your blood is pumping and that you decrease your chances of pulling something. And don’t forget to stretch after running to prevent all that lactic acid from settling and making you feel even more sore. That’s the proper time and place for static stretching after you are already warmed up.
2. Meal Planning
While what you eat depends on where you are in your race preparation, there are some general guidelines to follow that make you feel better and healthier as you strive to make the “most fit” you. The trick here is to eat the amount of calories you need to support your active lifestyle, without relying on junk food to fuel those cravings. Remember, you are what you eat — especially when it comes to running. When choosing what to eat, focus on:
- Whole grains
- Lean meats
While those energy bars have a time and a place, relying on them constantly is not a good option. There is much more substance and health in “whole foods”, which support your body as you train. Focus on eating foods containing seeds as well as different colored fruits and veggies.
So, next time you reach for that protein bar, instead try to eat an egg sandwich or a healthy protein drink. It’ll fill you up, and it’s better for you anyway!
3. Running Form
While each type of running requires a different form, long-distance form focuses on conserving energy and channeling it to more productive, performance-improving actions. So, instead of wasting energy on pumping your arms like a sprinter, follow these form tips:
- Keep a loose, long gait — especially on the downhills. You don’t want to overstretch, so make sure you have a comfortable stride.
- Relax your upper body. A lot of runners tend to stiffen their neck and shoulders while clenching their hands as they run. This will only lead to energy waste and a sore upper body the next day.
- Strike with your midfoot. You’ve probably heard that you should keep on your toes. While this is good for sprinting, doing this for a long time will wear out your calves. Striking on your heel can be jarring. Instead, strike in the middle and roll off your toes.
- Keep arms tucked in at waist level. Chicken wings or pistons are not good options. Remember suggestion number two, and keep your arms loose and moving gently along your hips as you run.
- Run straight. While this may seem like common sense, it’s amazing how many runners waste energy weaving as they go. Point your toes forward, and try to keep a nice tight line. It means you run shorter distances in a race and feel less exhausted at the end.
4. Recovery Time
The best thing to shorten your recovery time is an ice bath after a hard run. I know, it’s cold and miserable, but you’ll feel significantly better the next day. Other tactics include static stretching after working out to help reduce the amount of lactic acid that settles in you muscles. Also, if you have a hard run, feel free to do an easier workout the next day or switch up types of exercise. Go for a swim or a bike ride. This gives your joints and muscles a rest, and lets you focus on other important parts of your body without losing out on a good cardio workout.
You’ve probably felt that horrible sensation where your lungs seem to burn more than your legs. While running is supposed to increase your oxygen intake, make sure you are doing it properly to perform your best.
First, use deep belly breathing instead of trying to use your chest. Just like a singer, you need to have deep breaths to give you enough energy to keep going. Focus on taking deep breaths that make your stomach rise and fall. Try to breath using both your nose and mouth in order to reduce the chance of you getting a sore throat from gasping air. Don’t try to suck in too much oxygen! Taking a deep breath and holding for a second can help reduce the chance of you getting a side stitch.
If you are thirsty, you’ve already been dehydrated for awhile. To run your best, you have to keep your body full with plenty of liquid — especially when it’s warm. However, hydration is a constant process. You may want to be drinking at least eight cups of water a day as a bare minimum, more if you are out sweating. All depends on your activity levels explained by Harvard Health. By staying hydrated throughout the day, you won’t have to worry about waterlogging your body right before going out on a run. No one likes the feeling of sloshing water.
About thirty minutes before a run, drink a little bit of water (4-8 ounces) to prepare. While running, be careful not to over hydrate. While this may seem a strange concept at first, we can drink too much water when we get thirsty running. This can become a serious problem as your body won’t know how to process all that moisture. Take sips of water, but the most hydration you’ll get is hours before you set out.
After you run, you’ve sweat out a lot of salt and electrolytes. This is when you need to replenish your system. Grab your favorite sports drink and fill up! It’s also a great reward for a run well done.
Author: Kenna McMurray, Utah State University